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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 November, 2004, 18:30 GMT
Row over Coke mineral water plan
An application by Coca-Cola to re-open a well - closed for a century - to extract Malvern Hills mineral water has worried environmentalists.

The company said the move will not be detrimental to the area, but local people have questioned the claim.

There are records about Walms Well dating back to 250BC and calls have been made for more archaeological studies before water is extracted.

Coca-Cola is to meet local people next week to discuss their concerns.

There are records of a Celtic trackway to the well in 250BC
Rose Garrard, Malvern Spa Association
The company wants to substantially increase the extraction of the spa water, from the levels that were originally drawn.

Rose Garrard, Vice Chairman of the Malvern Spa Association, said she is unhappy about the way the planning application is being handled.

"The well is just inside Hereford's border, so they are dealing with the application," she said. "But all the environmental organisations are on the Worcestershire side, so there has been no consultation with us".

She told BBC News they wanted a professional archaeological survey carried out before any water was extracted.

"The well has a concrete cap and who knows what artefacts may be there," she said.

'Consistent flow'

"There are records of a Celtic trackway to the well in 250BC, so the site is of great historical interest, in an area of outstanding natural beauty."

Coca-Cola said in a statement their existing licence from the Environment Agency allows them to take 40m litres of water each year from the Malvern Hills, but is currently drawing only 27m litres.

It said its proposal to draw from Walms Well spring would not top the 40m litre level and would simply "ensure a consistent flow is available throughout the year".

As part of the legal requirement for the application, the firm contracted experts to carry out a preliminary environmental impact study, which it said has demonstrated extraction would not harm the area.

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